Video: Cutlers forego vaccinations By Julie Deardorff, Tribune reporter 4:26 pm, March 14, 2014 Experts warned against the dangers of following celebrity advice after reality star Kristin Cavallari acknowledged Thursday that she and husband Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler decided not to vaccinate their children. When directly asked whether she was opposed to vaccines during an appearance on the Fox Business Network program, The Independents, Cavallari said, “we don’t vaccinate.” The reason? “I’ve read too many books about autism and the studies,” she said. But some wondered what Cavallari had been reading. The supposed association between childhood shots and autism has been debunked by scientific studies involving millions of children and a lack of evidence for it. “Any association between vaccines and autism has long been disproven,” said Dr. Kenneth Alexander, chief of the section of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at the University of Chicago. “Her words are dangerous, will result in the under-immunization of children, and an increase in morbidity and mortality due to vaccine preventable diseases.” Most pediatricians strongly advocate vaccination because it can save lives. A cluster of unvaccinated children, meanwhile, can put even vaccinated children at risk. Respected medical organizations, including the World Health Organization, the National Institutes of Health and the American Academy of Pediatrics, state there is no evidence of a link and recommend all children receive vaccinations. Cavallari, pregnant with the Cutler’s second son, went on to explain, “Well, there is a pediatric group called Homestead, Homestead or Homefirst, now I have pregnancy brain I got them confused — they’ve never vaccinated any of their children, and they haven’t had one case of autism. And now one in 88 boys is autistic, which is a really scary statistic.” The show host, former MTV VJ Kennedy, looked skeptical. “Well, my mom vaccinated us and she doesn’t have any cases of autism either,” she said. To which Cavallari replied, “The vaccinations have changed over the years, there’s more mercury and other…” she trailed off. Yes, the vaccines have changed. As a precaution, by 2001, the mercury-based preservative thimerosal was removed from most vaccines for children under age 6 — with the exception of the influenza vaccine. Homefirst Health Services, meanwhile — if that’s what Cavallari meant — is a Rolling Meadows-based pediatrics practice that embraces home births and shuns vaccines. Dr. Mayer Eisenstein and his practice were the subject of a 2009 Chicago Tribune investigation that shed light on the use of potentially dangerous alternative autism treatments. On the Homefirst website, Eisenstein maintains that “personal religious convictions, not scientific studies, are the main reasons, upon which to base your vaccination decision.” Alexander said Cavallari’s comments illustrate the problems with celebrity spokespeople, namely that they often have their facts wrong. “Celebrity status does not indicate scientific expertise,” he said. The Tribune was not able to reach Cavallari.